The Avant-garde

Term: Spring 2009

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 4508

The avant-garde movements of the early 20th century ushered in a revolution on many fronts: a revolution in the arts, a revolution in political values, and a revolution in thinking itself. In this course, we examine central literary and artistic works of the European avant-garde, studying the movements of Italian futurism, German expressionism, Dada, and French surrealism. At the heart of this course is an inquiry into the crucial nexus of art and politics. What constitutes the central critiques made by the various avant-garde movements? In what ways did these movements induce social and political change? What legacy have they left on our thinking today? Finally, what can we make of the complexities of the avant-garde? How can we understand the futurist leaning toward fascism, the anarchist stance in Dada, and the gender violence in expressionist art and literature? Attention is paid to the visual and verbal arts. We read the genres of poetry, prose, and drama, as well as manifestoes and political tracts. We also view slides of painting, photography, photomontage and performance art. Works by Andr� Breton, Leonora Carrington, Franz Kafka, Mina Loy, F.T. Marinetti, Tristan Tzara, and Frank Wedekind, amongst others. Theoretical texts by Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Peter B�rger, and Georg Luk�cs.

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